UNITED STATES: A Connecticut jury ruled on Wednesday that right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay at least $965 million in damages to several families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting for making false claims that the victims were actors who staged the tragedy.
After three weeks of testimony in a state court in Waterbury, Connecticut, the jury returned a verdict that was far more than the $49 million that Jones was ordered to pay in August by a Texas jury in a case similar to the one brought by two other Sandy Hook parents.
The Connecticut judgement is binding on both Jones and Free Speech Systems LLC, the business that runs Jones’ Infowars website. In July, FSS filed for bankruptcy.
More than a dozen family members of the 20 children and six staff members who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 were among the plaintiffs in the Connecticut lawsuit.
Years ago, Jones maintained that the tragedy was staged as part of a government scheme to remove Americans’ access to firearms.
The conviction was “against Alex Jones, his lies, and their poisonous spread, and a verdict for truth and for our common humanity,” said Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the families, outside the courthouse.
Last year, Jones was held accountable in a default judgement for disobeying court instructions.
Last week, during closing arguments, Mattei claimed Jones made money for years by fabricating the incident, which increased traffic to his website Infowars and increased sales of its numerous items.
Although Infowars’ finances are private, trial testimony indicates that between 2016 and 2018, the website earned $165 million in income. In the Texas case, an economist determined that Jones’s net worth ranges from $135 million to $270 million.